Girls Basketball coach hits 500 wins
- Published: January 10, 2013
On the verge of his 500th career win last Thursday, all Coach Tim Barga could think about was the nail-biting battle in front of him between two league contenders.
Down by two points in the fourth quarter against Metro Buckeye Conference powerhouse Troy Christian, the Yellow Springs High School girls’ basketball team rallied for their coach, and their season, to pull out a 34–27 victory and remain unbeaten in the MBC.
Only when the final buzzer sounded did Barga realize he achieved a seminal coaching milestone.
“The game was such a big game for us because of the league, I thought nothing about the [500th win] until my assistant coach went to get the game ball,” Barga said after the victory.
Though the 29-year veteran coach is honored to be in the same category as Ohio’s top coaches — he is the 13th most winning girls’ basketball coach in Ohio High School history — Barga was more exhilarated by the league win, which puts the team on its way to its first MBC title in school history.
“This year they have a chance to win the league,” Barga said. “There’s still a lot of basketball, but if we play with the intensity of the last game, [the team] is going to win some ball games.”
The second-year YSHS coach was also more excited about the way his team played on Thursday, which, compared with earlier games, was like “night and day,” he said. Though the team has a respectable record of 6–3 (4–0 in the MBC), early in the season Barga didn’t see the enthusiasm from his players that he expected for such a talented squad.
“They had much more energy,” Barga said after the Troy Christian game. “They finally came out to play.”
In the first half the Lady Bulldogs only gave up two field goals but failed to put points on the board. When his team frittered away its final two possessions without a shot on basket, he yelled at the girls as they walked into the locker room — “We’re down by two points because no one wants to shoot the ball!”
That changed in the second half, when YSHS went on a 9–2 run to lead 20–13 late in the third quarter. But in the third quarter’s final two minutes, the visitors found their own 9–2 run, mostly a result of an effective full-court press that forced repeated turnovers from the Lady Bulldogs. As the buzzer ended the third quarter, a three-point Troy Christian basket evened the match and silenced the home crowd.
But YSHS proved resilient in the fourth quarter, thanks to strong senior leadership. The Lady Bulldogs fell behind 24–22 before senior forward Angela Allen made two clutch free throws to tie the game with six minutes remaining. Fellow senior Paloma Wiggins came off the bench with two critical field goals, Keturah Fulton handled the ball well under pressure and Maryah Martin stayed strong from the line to extend the Lady Bulldog’s lead late in the game. More importantly, YSHS kept Troy Christian off the scoreboard with strong, no-foul defense, according to Barga.
“We let them make the mistakes and didn’t fall for fouls,” Barga said. “We just kept putting pressure on them. The kids came out [in the second half] and kept that positive attitude. They didn’t hang their heads.”
Barga, 56, started coaching in 1981 and spent most of his years at Versailles High School in Darke County, where he led the girls’ varsity basketball team to 12 league titles and two state berths. The former state coach of the year also coached at two other Ohio high schools, Russia and Fairlawn, before coming to YSHS last year and leading the team to a 8–13 finish. His career coaching record now stands at 500–164.
Barga, who still lives in Versailles, said he is happy to drive the 1 hour and 10 minutes for daily practices at Yellow Springs High School. Though the teams have changed, it’s seeing satisfied players after a win that keeps him coming out season after season.
“If you’re coaching and you get a huge win, you get to watch the faces of these kids as they come off,” he said of coaching’s greatest pleasure. He also sees his role as imparting life lessons.
“Discipline is a huge part of basketball — you have to be there every day,” Barga said. “You have to learn to be a team, which is important whether you are in school or work in an office. Basketball teaches you a lot of that stuff. So that’s one of my jobs, to help kids in the future.”
In Yellow Springs, Barga has had to contend with a more laid-back culture and a long history of losing seasons. He has seen his team give up games they could’ve won and be lethargic at practice. Now his challenge is to keep the energy from the Troy Christian game going.
“I personally think we can win the league,” Barga said. “But that’s just me. The kids have to believe it.”